When moving to a new country to live for an extended period of time, it is important to learn as much as possible about the country’s culture, society, people, religions and customs. This knowledge will help you to understand the new country better and acclimatization will take place much quicker as you feel more comfortable in the new surroundings.
From its early beginnings to today, Egypt is a mixture of Pharaonic, Persian, Greek, Roman, British, French, Ottoman, Turkish and Arab influences, making the present day society a tapestry of cultural diversity.
Egyptians are the most accommodating people and they will go out of their way to help you and respond to any questions you have.
Settling into a new environment is both exciting and challenging, especially when that new environment contains a new and different culture. Change for many of us is a stimulating part of our lives.
When we are cut off from familiar cultural cues and patterns, especially the subtle, indirect ways you normally have to express feelings, this can cause stress. Adding to this might be the uncertainty of how long you will be in Egypt. Finally, you are continually put into a situation where you are expected to function with maximum skill and speed yet the rules have not been adequately explained.
There is an identifiable, natural sequence in adapting to new surroundings and there are distinct stages of personal adjustment that most people experience. Understanding the sequence of change and learning what to expect as normal is the beginning of successful adaptation.
Typically there are four phases in the process of cultural adaptation. Each of these phases has a range of emotions. Individuals may experience all or some of these phases. Recognizing these phases and emotions will help to alleviate stress that can lead to problems now or in the future and help you to become a truly international person.
“Interculturally effective individuals and families usually have a rare combination of prized personal and interpersonal skills, are likeable, and are generally happier people. They can easily relocate and adapt to living and working in different cultural contexts.” (Sana Hafez, Intercultural Specialist)
What are some of the attributes of an interculturally effective individual?
It is important to remember that children are not immune to culture shock. If Mom and Dad view living overseas as an opportunity, their children will most likely have similar attitudes. Regular family discussions and open communication will help to make your cross-cultural living experience a rewarding and memorable one for the whole family.
Some tips for an easier adjustment:
An international relocation is an experience that changes your life, in both expected and surprising ways. During your first days in any country where you move to, you will be making many decisions – some big (where to live, where the kids go to school) and some small. Many things will be different, some obvious (language), and some subtle (like tipping the butcher). You may feel overwhelmed by all these changes, and you might feel pressure to feel at home soon, and go back to ‘normal’. But your life has changed in a profound way and you have to take the time to adjust.
Read the article in Oasis of July/August 2013 on settling in.
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